Friday 22 March 2019

Norwegian lessons from the past can carry Sligo through

THE NORWEGIAN manager who faced up to Sligo Rovers in Europe last season ended up getting a well-paid job in the English Premier League as former Molde boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer breezed into a new post.

The boss from Norway who took on Sligo, and lost, last week got himself the sack. There are fine margins in football and so the stakes are high when Sligo take on a manager-less Rosenborg in the Showgrounds tonight (7pm), Sligo 2-1 up from the away leg.

Turkish side Kardemir Karabükspor await the winners of this tie in the third round and around Sligo, the hope is that after a series of failure in Europe, the side can follow up on their first-round win over Lithuanian side Banga by dumping out the once-mighty Rosenborg.

Twelve months ago it was Molde and their boss Solksjaer who were in town, the former Manchester United man such a draw that Sky Sports News sent a crew to Connacht to cover the game.

Molde eased past Sligo 3-0 on aggregate but for Rovers keeper Gary Rogers, there are lessons from that battle which can carry them through tonight's test and into the third round of a European competition for the first time in the club's history.

"I think it's a real advantage for us that we are playing a side from Norway for the second year in a row as we know what to expect," says Rogers.

"When we played Molde last year there was a bit of excitement about the game because of Solksjaer and they had a few top-class players, but we were not overawed by them in any way. We didn't score against them and Molde beat us in both legs but I think we left it behind us in that tie, we could have done better as we had chances to score home and away.

"So we will take the lessons from that into this game against Rosenborg and hopefully it will be enough to get through," added Rogers.

That 2-1 loss at home to Sligo was a disaster for Rosenborg, a side who were regulars in the Champions League with 11 group stage campaigns between 1995 and 2008, but who have fallen on hard times of late, and the manager who oversaw the loss to Sligo paid the price by losing his job.

Having made his Euro debut with St Patrick's Athletic back in 2009, Rogers is one of the most-experienced players on this stage in John Coleman's squad.

He had good times in Europe at St Pats (wins over opposition from Malta, Russia, Iceland and Kazakhstan) as the side reached the third qualifying round twice, but things were tougher at Sligo with first-round defeats to opposition from Slovakia (2012) and Norway (2013) before that memorable first-round defeat of Banga.

"We have done a lot of the hard work already, getting a draw in Lithuania and then beating their side 4-0 at home, and then that 2-1 win in Norway in the first leg," says Rogers.

"So it is there for us to get through now but we will have to be switched on tonight. If we can score early the tie will be as good as over with our two away goals, but if we concede early the pressure will be on.

"There is a good buzz around the town and the Showgrounds should be full, hopefully we can finish off the job and get to Turkey in the next round.

"One of the highlights for me in Europe was with Pats when we beat Krylya Sovyetov at home, but that only meant something as we won the tie and went into the next round, so we have to make sure we finish the job tonight and progress to be sure that the win away to Rosenborg counts," added Rogers.

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